Though the faltering displays from Manchester City and Manchester United on the thin membrane of Champions League qualification have gathered all the highlights, one cannot overlook how close Liverpool still are on missing out on the elite European tournament.
The Reds rode at the back of an outlandish Emre Can goal last game that got them past an under-average Watford side, despite some slack in their display. They are now with 69 points having played a game more than immediate threat Manchester City. And with just three games to go, Jurgen Klopp’s men will have to win all of them to ensure the third spot.
They host a tricky opponent in Southampton next, a side they haven’t been very comfortable playing against of late. And most importantly, Klopp, who has been successful against all top six sides so far, is yet to find a win against the South Coast club in his last three encounters.
The last time Liverpool won against Southampton was before the German arrived. In fact, they are yet to score a goal against Southampton in the last three games. They have drawn goalless once and lost twice. The recent record seems worrisome for Liverpool fans but with West Ham United and Middlesbrough being the other two fixtures, Southampton are the only tough opponents left to play.
Possible Liverpool XI vs Southampton
The position under the bar will be taken by Simon Mignolet. The Belgian has conceded 30 goals in 25 outings, and given the low-scoring nature of this fixture of late, he would hope to keep his decent record intact.
Liverpool should have a more or less unchanged side against Southampton. The defensive flanks should be taken by the regulars- James Milner and Nathaniel Clyne. Milner has been one of the most disciplined players for Klopp playing out of position this season and the manager would expect the midfielder to take his preferred role next season after he has done the shopping.
The central defence should feature Dejan Lovren and Joel Matip. Interestingly, it was Lovren, who scored against Liverpool in 2013, when Southampton last won against the Reds.
The three-man midfield is likely to feature Georginio Wijnaldum, Emre Can and Lucas Leiva. The Brazilian international is expected to take the anchorman’s role with the other two in attacking duties.
The attacking trio is expected to feature Roberto Firmino, Philipe Coutinho and Divock Origi.
This is how they could line up: